A Journey Towards Fearless Living
4 Steps to Easy Road Trip Stops with a Baby
Jackson and I have been known to take a road trip or two...or three...or six (all in one year) before. We LOVE to travel, and one of our non-negotiables we went into parenthood with was that we would continue to travel with Beckley as soon as she was old enough to do so safely.
When Beckley was around 7 weeks old we took her on her first lengthy road trip to Hilton Head. We had taken a couple shorter day-trips before, with the intention of practicing being on the road for an extended time with an infant, but this was by far our longest time on the road with her.
After that trip we made many other road trips, to Chicago, Cleveland (multiple times), Michigan, the Outer Banks, Georgia, and to my Alma Mater in Ohio. Let's just say that we've had some practice, and absolutely picked up some tricks along the way!
In today's post I'm sharing with you 4 Steps to Easy Road Trip Stops. One of the hardest things about road-tripping with a baby is knowing when to stop and how best to keep your stops from taking too long. In this post I share how we approached road stops with a baby, and some key tips I have to make your road trip stops easier.
Without any more delay, let's dive into this post...
4 Steps to Easy Road Trip Stops:
- Time your stops with your baby's wake windows
- Batch your stops for maximum time efficiency
- Have a game plan ahead of time
- Be generous with your estimated driving time
01 | Time Your Stops With Your Baby's Wake Windows
Your goal should be to avoid stopping while your baby is sleeping. If you can help it, keep on driving! However, their wake windows are the perfect time to stop and take care of needs like gas, food, changes, and using the bathroom.
02 | Batch Your Stops for Maximum Time Efficiency
Batch your stops by doing everything in one go. Top off on gas every time you stop, feed the baby, get food for yourself, change diapers, stretch, use the restroom. Whatever you may need to do, do it all in one stop!
Try your best to make each stop count as much as possible. If you can find an exit that has lots of gas and food options, that is preferable. Bonus points if they're sharing parking lots/plazas!
03 | Have a Game Plan
Having a game plan is the key! Know whether you're getting food or gas first, who'd feeding/changing the baby, who's running to the restroom first, etc. Having a plan of action will help keep your stops not only as time efficient as possible, but as enjoyable as possible as well.
Here is how Jackson and I typically tackle stops on our road trips:
- We choose a stop that has gas and food options close to one another (i.e. across the street, sharing a plaza, etc.)
- Jackson tops off on gas while I prep Beckley's bottle/changing station.
- Jackson runs in to use restroom & get our food while I feed/change Beckley.
- Jackson eats while I finish feeding Beckley.
- Beckley stretches while Jackson finishes eating.
- Jackson buckles Beckley into her carseat while I use the restroom.
- I eat while we get back on the road.
We personally found this routine to be the most time efficient for us, but every family is different! Beckley is now out of bottles and is eating real food so this will look different for future road trips, but if you have a baby this is a good game plan to start with. ☺️
04 | Be Generous with Your Estimated Driving Time
When you're traveling with a baby, leave room for lots of fluctuation and grace! Stops make take longer than planned, or you may need to stop more often than projected, and that's okay. I always recommend adding an extra 45 minutes for every 2 hours of your trip to your estimated driving time to minimize stress or anxiety due to time. So for example, if Google Maps says your trip should take 8 hours, plan for 11 hours. You very well may not need that full additional 3 hours, but I'd always rather have buffer time built in and end up being ahead of schedule, rather than behind! Plus, pediatricians recommend babies not be in their carseat for longer than 2 hours at a time. So while Jackson and I may not have been rigid about keeping to this rule (we never wake a sleeping baby!), if you WANT to stick to this rule then you have an allowance of 45 minutes for each stop every two hours.
The best piece of of advice I can give you is to allow yourself to encounter messy moments. Traveling with a baby isn't always smooth-sailing, no matter how much planning or forethought you put into it. But don't let the fear of a messy circumstance hold you back. After all, in every mess there's a message, and you rarely grow by doing what's easy.
Thank you as always for stopping by my little corner of the internet. If you're currently planning your own road trip with a baby I hope you found this post helpful!
Cheering you on always!